Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Digital, On Demand, Cable

Over the last two weeks I've been moving. What a mess. Hundreds of boxes. Literally. It will probably be another six months before I find all my stuff.

No pickles. No bars of soap. (Don't worry: I have a lifetime supply of hotel soap...) No phone line. But I do have cable-- not that I watch TV, mind you. So why have cable? For the Internet! I have to have Internet... For my job... Yeah, for the job.

Here's the deal: I had to get my cable modem on the network, so I asked how musch for basic cable to connect to my cable ready TVs. The high-speed Internet was about $40, and the basic cable was $30. As it turns out, digital cable is $25, but you have to rent the set-top box for $5 per month. This means the price is the same.

Here's the catch: If you get digital cable, you get analog for free. How does that work?

I must admit, though, that I did watch TV. What I actually watched, was cable inDemand. This is some cool stuff. They have a repository of several hundred shows that can be run anytime you want-- for free. Old Monty Python episodes, Discovery and National Geographical specials, "gone to video" movies. It's actually pretty cool.

Now, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that you got a Tivo and can accomplish all that same stuff. No, you can't. What Tivo does is take what the cable company sends you, and lets you control it. This is stuff that is only being sent, as I request it.

From my observation, I suspect that there is some compression involved, as the picture quality seems to be lower than the realtime programming.

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